Remember the Saturday you took me out to Great American and showed me "real music"?
"This guy can't sing," you said. "But he sure can write." And the words of Maggie's Farm bounced with us along those back roads. "I remember covering this song when I was in The Horizons," you would say as the sweet voice of Roy Orbison filled your jeep. "This guy, you need to know," and you started singing along with Gordon Lightfoot's crooning. "And this guy.... well, you already know..." as John Denver's voice carried us down into the valley. That was just the beginning of a world you unwrapped for me. You were the first man to win my heart with music.
On Fridays, I would wait for the hum of your car down the road. In fact, I can remember perching myself in the old observatory room to watch for your headlights careening down 146 and onto 443. I can remember bounding down those old wooden steps to catch you on your walk through the door. You were the first man to sweep me off my feet and swing me around.
The nights when I would call for you in the dark and you'd come to my side, and sing sweetly of Puff the Magic Dragon and a little flower called Edelweiss. Then you would say, "Let me count those freckles," and I would be drifting to sleep before you reached "10". And if I ever woke up scared, the sound of your evening TV reminded me that someone stronger was still awake and keeping watch. You were the first man to keep me safe.
I'll never forget the summer I wanted to garden, so you tilled the ground.
The times I wanted to watch horses run, so you took me with you and showed me Saratoga.
I said I wanted to fish, so you took me off the coast of Salem, Mass. for a deep-sea adventure.
When I cried about my dreams, and you told me to keep trying.
When I said, "french horn!"... you said, sure!
When I said, "Hong Kong!"... you said, why not?
When I said, "ministry!" ... you said, whatever makes you happy!
When you stood on the porch with me at your feet, while I picked at grass and kicked tiny stones, you said, "Figure out what you love to do. Then figure out how to get paid for it."
You were the first man who noticed me, listened and gave me the confidence to fly.
And when I cried about a boy, and you told me I deserved better.
When I stood embarrassed in front of the crowd, you held my hand.
When I didn't know what to do with the life that was unraveling, you pulled me into your arms and stroked my hair as I sobbed.
When I was scared for my future, you held my baby girl in your arms.
When I signed divorce papers, you said "You're gonna make it through this. Your future is bright."
When I stood at your door as a single mom, you prepared the table and said "welcome home."
You are the father I needed.
All the words I could string together will never feel like enough.
I love you Dad.